Mililani JROTC Cadets Test Skills At Warrior Challenge

JROTC cadets struggle to pull a Humvee uphill as 25th Infantry soldiers provide motivation. Photo by Iris Corrales.

JROTC cadets struggle to pull a Humvee uphill as 25th Infantry soldiers provide motivation. Photo by Iris Corrales.

Mililani Army JROTC Public Affairs Officer

Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) cadets from across the island came together Oct. 18 and 19 to compete in the Junior Lightning Warrior Challenge at Schofield Barracks.

Sixteen high school JROTC units participated in the event, which was hosted by the 25th Infantry Division and judged by non-commissioned officers from the Sgt. Audie Murphy Clubs.

The challenge tested cadets’ leadership skills, physical fitness abilities and helped to further develop team-building processes. Each school was allowed to enter two teams of three male and three female cadets.

“The focus is to make it consistent across all schools that in order to complete each event, you had to finish as a team,” said Cadet Lt. Darius Usborne. “I just moved here from England, and it was a great opportunity for me to compete with all these great cadets. I bonded so quickly with my team, I think I have made lifelong friends from just this one event.”

The first challenge was the Modified Physical Fitness Test (MPFT). which measures overall strength and fitness level and consists of push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, dips and a one-mile run. After finishing, cadets were given a compass and required to navigate to huts where they were to spend the night.

Day two arrived, and things got more challenging.

The first task was to complete a 2-mile march while wearing a rucksack holding between 15 and 20 pounds of essential supplies, including Meals Ready to Eat, extra clothing and water. The supplies were not only a part of the challenge, but to make sure everyone was safe.

“Our No. 1 priority is safety,” said Sgt. First Class Nelson Martinez, Junior Lightning Warrior Challenge noncommissioned officer in charge. “We had to make sure the cadet team leaders were enforcing cadets to hydrate on the move during the march.”

As soon as cadets arrived in timed-intervals at their final destination, the second event kicked off – the medical event.

This one tested their ability to treat a casualty.

“I was able to use what I have learned this year in JROTC and apply it to this situation,” said Cadet Owen Miyahara. “It was just a little more real since I was the one to evaluate the casualty, while my other team members treated him.”

The third phase of the competition was the Makahiki Challenge, which consisted of three water-related events – a relay swim, underwater equipment recovery and swimming with a kick board between your legs.

“I had no idea how demanding this Makahiki competition was going to be,” said Cadet Sgt. Joy Sanchez. “To work together as a team, and finish as a team was what I got out of it; it really opened my eyes and showed me personally some areas that I need to improve on – like swimming underwater.”

The final part of the competition was the three-event Warrior Challenge.

The Phoenix Obstacle Course gave the cadets their first taste of real soldiering. A light drizzle made it the perfect playground for the cadets to get muddy.

“I enjoyed running and going through the course. The soldiers who guided us really motivated you and push you all the way to finish each leg of the course,” said Cadet Lt. Kayla Cosme.

Following a break for water and MREs, cadets had their physical fitness challenged again by flipping a large tire, lifting a short telephone pole and pulling a 5,200 pounds Humvee uphill with a rope.

The final event required the building of a rope bridge, throwing a spear through several hoops, lifting five-gallon water storage containers and doing multiple sets of push-ups.

“Our goal is to get the cadets motivated and have a safe competition,” said Martinez. “Leaders set the example, and every one of these cadets are leaders.

“They never quit, and they motivated all of us from their determination and energy.

“Our focus is to get them to work as a team, you cannot accomplish these tasks by yourself, and that was our primary focus, to build teamwork.”